Churches Go Virtual for Easter

Alternative Easter egg hunts and online services helping churches stay connected to congregations during pandemic

By Maggie Dresser
A screenshot from Whitefish Assembly's virtual Easter egg hunt.

After Easter egg hunts were canceled across the world to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, Associate Pastor John Weaver at Whitefish Assembly decided to apply his knowledge of 3D tours used in real estate to create a virtual egg hunt.

“We basically put out 1,000 eggs in our church building and we (use) a Matterport 3D tour that’s often used in real estate,” Weaver said. “We scan the entire building and they are able to walk through the space in a virtual reality.”

Weaver and volunteers hid an undisclosed number of eggs in each of the church’s 13 rooms. The egg hunter fills out a form with the number of eggs they found, and whoever is the closest to the total in each room receives separate prizes. The overall winner receives an Easter basket.

In a separate contest for adults 18 and older, egg hunters must count each color, which Weaver says is much more detail-oriented and time-consuming, and winners receive single prizes.

While the contest closes at 12:30 on Easter Sunday, the virtual egg hunt will be available through the end of April. Weaver says in the first three days of the contest this week, the tour received 7,000 views on Whitefish Assembly’s website alone, as well as views from more than 50 countries altogether.

“It’s been neat to see this reach so many and see the possibilities,” Weaver said. “It’s a free resource that we’ve made available to everybody.”

Canvas Church is also modifying its usual Easter egg hunt. At each of its campuses in Cut Bank, Columbia Falls and Kalispell, volunteers compiled 20,000 Easter eggs to hand out to the public.

Pastor Kevin Geer says they also added a section on their website for people who need grocery services and for senior citizens who might need help setting up their computers to view online services, which Canvas holds weekly. The church is utilizing Facebook live to offer Easter services on Saturday, April 11 at 6 p.m.; Sunday, April 12 at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:50 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and Monday, April 13 at 7 p.m.

“We’re following social distancing … the church is never about a building in the first place,” Geer said. “We’re not spreading the virus, we’re spreading peace.”

Whitefish Assembly is offering online church services on Sundays at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., too. Everybody who watches a gathering can fill out a “connection card” and the church gives a $5 donation to local food banks. Weaver says they have already donated more than $1,000.

Additionally, the church has set up an online chat section on its website where people can ask for prayer.

For more information, visit https://canvas.church/ or https://whitefishassembly.online.church/. To participate in the virtual Easter egg hunt, visit http://whitefishassembly.com/hunt.

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